Let's give the leaders a tough time, says Cleethorpes Town boss Andy Liddle
MANAGER Andy Liddle is confident his Owls have the potential to ruffle the feathers of league leaders Athersley Recreation.
Cleethorpes Town get their claws into the Baris Northern Counties East League Division One table-toppers at the Bradley Community Football Stadium tomorrow (3pm).
The Owls go into the game on the back of a 5-2 victory over derby rivals Grimsby Borough during the festive period.
Barnsley-based Athersley joined the NCEL alongside Cleethorpes this season, and have been the front-runners all season.
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But they wobbled slightly on their perch in December, taking five points from four games.
Liddle said: "We played Athersley on the first day of the season and should have won – we were 3-1 up at half-time.
"They have been the leaders since the season started and you've got to admire them for that.
"But we've improved a lot since then and teams have been finding it hard to beat us at home of late.
"I'm looking forward to the game and confident we can get something out of it and give them a tough time.
"They lost to Shirebrook in their last game and drew the two before that, so they're in a relatively bad patch.
"But every team has that and we'll have to give them our full respect – they are still top of the league on merit."
Liddle believes his squad stands in good stead to mount a promotion charge in the second half of the season, with "key players" poised to return this month.
Striker Lee Stephenson, midfielder Lewis Buckthorp, left-back Danny Barrett and centre-back Matt Coleman are all close to being in contention for first-team returns.
And former Grimsby Borough player Luke Mascall is set to complete his 112-day ban for accrued suspensions in the league.
Liddle said: "We are looking forward to getting a full-strength squad and will be at our strongest towards the end of the season.
"But the lads who have played recently, and worked their socks off in training, have been outstanding.
"We've put them through some gruelling training sessions, but the results are starting to show.
"I believe we are one of the fittest teams in the league, and I think that showed in the victory against Borough."
Louth Town are searching for a first victory in four matches tomorrow when they host Albion Sports at Park Avenue (kick-off 2pm).
Winless in December, with two draws and a defeat last time out, the White Wolves will be looking to get their promotion tilt back on track after slipping to seventh in the Baris Northern Counties East League Division One table.
Daryl Clare will be looking for a big performance from his Wolves team against a Sports outfit that are fourth in the standings.